Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Berlin Film Festival Diaries
Report #4 (February 20)

by Marcia Pally

Berlin, February 20, 1997

Time was when men made me offers at the Berlinale. Trips to Paris, London... True, they have been less glamorous of late: offers to Cleveland, Brastislava, Los Angeles. Then there was the fellow who tried to pick me up by telling me, when my computer failed, that the male and female plugs had to be mashed together. Things continue to worsen. After interviewing me for a radio program, one guy slid up to me and told me my best feature was my voice. I am better disembodied? He hadn't even seen the rest. I suppose I can stop spending my salary on expensive makeup.


What a sense of humor the French have. Not that I've ever noticed any working the Cannes Festival, where I mostly hear the unfunny, faux earnest words, "Je suis desolé" which makes me want to wring their silly necks. But at this festival they have shown how really good-natured and funny they are by putting a B soap opera, "Le Jour et La Nuit," in the competition. An aging Alain Delon, known for being nouvelle-cute during the Nouvelle Vague, plays an aging writer whose first novel about a lost love is adapted to the screen. This means that an old guy gets to be adored by a young blonde. This is surely a breakthrough for French cinema. And though one does get to see several female bottoms, in the entire film there is not one good dress.


I was about to get seriously upset about the appalling state of American education after seeing the Panorama film "Arresting Gena," about a New Jersey teenager so dumb she can't tell when her friends are selling drugs. Aside from that, and the somewhat slow pacing, the film is interesting, except of course that a film about being down and out in N.J. is redundant. In any case. I'm not upset about U.S. education because "Der Fluss" proves that teenagers are just as dumb in Taiwan. Not only do they swim in polluted rivers, but when they contract the bubonic plague they think they have a neck-ache. So do the parents, who are more concerned with their lovers than their kids, and so do the doctors who use incense rather than modern medicine. So one film manages to indict the family, the medical system and tradition (no doubt to the delight of the Taiwan tourist service), but not only that. "Der Fluss" gets the award for longest urination in movie history, longest tongue (in a different scene), longest roof leak, and longest hand job. In sum, this is a film about liquids and pollution, and as an American I understand this: now that mainland China is taking Hong Kong, the Taiwanese are afraid - as Americans were in the '50s - that the Commies are poisoning the water.


Teenagers apparently are not dumb in Wales. They outsmart both cops and thugs in "Twin Town," the first half of which at least is outrageous and clever. So the Welsh will take over the world--with the Chinese of course. Does this mean we have to eat Welsh food?

If Albert Wiederspiel is catering, I accept. He organized the "Twin Town" party, which in addition to having enough champagne had two filmic firsts: a clothesline complete with drying underwear - a tease for the tourist spots of Wales, and a working masseuse. Albert, will you cater my life so I can stop worrying about offers to Bratislava and men who want to love me without my body?

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